Lincecum Throws No-Hitter; Is the Freak Show Back in Town?

Tim Lincecum threw a no-hitter Saturday night. No, you have not traveled back in time five years, but I understand your confusion.

If you squint your eyes and think back, you can remember a time not too long ago when Lincecum was an elite starting pitcher. Between 2008 and 2011, “The Freak” racked up a whole host of accolades including back-to-back Cy Young Awards, 4 consecutive All-Star selections, a World Series start and win and a Sports Illustrated cover story. Batters crumbled at Lincecum’s fastball and it appeared that he was pitching his way straight into the Hall of Fame.

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Then came 2012.

To say that Lincecum struggled in 2012 is like saying the Cubs haven’t won the World Series in a few years. Lincecum was so bad in 2012 (statistically the worst starter in the National League) that he lost his starting role and was converted to a reliever. Although Lincecum excelled in the bullpen, he was not content in his role. Once you’ve been at the top you just can’t go back — it’s like asking Jack Nicholson to sit in the second row at the Oscars. Lincecum regained his spot in the Giants‘ starting rotation in 2013, but has had a rough season. Coming into Saturday’s game he was 4-9 with a 4.61 ERA and a WHIP of 1.41. Those numbers don’t bode well for a pitcher facing free agency next year who wants to keep a starting job.

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Then came Saturday.

Lincecum took the mound against the San Diego Padres having lost nine of his last 11 starts, with that dismal ERA, and a serious lack of run support from a team whose season is spiraling out of control. No one, except maybe Lincecum (and probably his mom) thought he was capable of what he did. He didn’t just throw a no-no, he did it in a mind-blowing 148 pitches.

By the way, that game was in San Diego — mad props to Padres fans for cheering Lincecum’s moment. You stay classy, San Diego.

So, is the Freak Show back in town? Probably not. Flashes of brilliance are not uncommon with formerly top-tier athletes who have lost a step. Remember when Jack Nicklaus was considered washed up in 1986 and then he won The Masters? Actually, neither do I because first of all it’s golf and second of all I was fifteen years-old…but you get my point, right? Whether Lincecum is making a comeback or just having a final moment of glory, no-hitters are fun to watch and a bunch of people get free pizza.

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